The Android ecosystem is all about alternative. Whereas iPhone house owners have a smaller pool of recent units to choose from when it’s time to improve, there’s an enormous vary of recent Android telephones yearly. A few of them even fold in half! You desire a built-in stylus? A flagship processor for much less cash? Perhaps even — dare I say it — an unapologetically pink phone with matching earbuds? You’ve acquired choices on Android.
On the flip aspect, all that alternative could make for some exhausting selections. Right here’s the place I’d like to assist; I’ve examined an entire boatload of current Android telephones, and I believe there are some actual winners in the present crop. It’s all a matter of what you’re searching for, what you’re snug spending, and what your definition of a “reasonably sized phone” is. (I’ve my very own, personally.)
Right here’s one thing else to issue in: one of many yr’s greatest Android phone launches is probably going simply across the nook. We’re anticipating Google to announce new Pixels this fall, because it tends to do, and rumors level to some substantial upgrades to the digital camera together with the tip of the curved-edge design, finally. When you’re in a brand new Pixel, it’s price ready some time to see what’s new this yr. In any other case, many of the yr’s main Android phone launches are behind us, and there are some nice choices on the desk.
When you stay in the US, I’ve some dangerous information in regards to the Android market, although. For classy causes having to do with “capitalism” and “geopolitics,” we don’t get practically as lots of the choices as you’ll discover in Asia and Europe — manufacturers like Huawei, Xiaomi, Honor, and Oppo simply aren’t obtainable right here. I’ve restricted this information to the units I’ve personally examined in depth; thus, it’s a pretty US-centric set of suggestions.
With that in thoughts, it’s additionally price acknowledging that most individuals in the US get their telephones “for free” from their wi-fi service. When you can handle it, shopping for a phone unlocked will provide you with essentially the most flexibility and freedom if you find yourself wanting to change carriers in the close to future. Phone producers additionally supply financing and trade-in offers to make fee extra manageable. However when you’re blissful along with your service and the free phone on supply is the one you really need, by all means, take the free phone. Simply be sure to perceive the phrases, particularly when you want to change plans to money in on the deal.
Nonetheless you go about it, you may have some implausible choices in your subsequent Android phone.
Best Android phone general
The Pixel 8 comes with simply a few key upgrades over the Pixel 7, and it misses out on a number of higher-end options on the 8 Professional, like a telephoto lens. However its mixture of value, options, and the promise of seven years of OS updates makes it the best mainstream Android phone to buy proper now.
Display: 6.2-inch 1080p 120Hz OLED / Processor: Tensor G3 / Cameras: 50-megapixel F1.7 essential with OIS, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 10.5-megapixel selfie / Battery: 4,575mAh / Charging: 27W wired, 12W wi-fi / Climate resistance: IP68
There’s extra space between Google’s commonplace and Professional mannequin Pixels in the 8 collection than there’s been in the previous couple of generations. The Pixel 8 will miss out on among the showcase AI applied sciences that the Professional will get in the approaching yr, besides, it’s a phone with plenty of smarts and quality-of-life updates that will make nearly anybody blissful.
Loads has modified right here and there from the Pixel 7, beginning with the dimensions. In an age of massive and larger telephones, the Pixel 8 really shrank slightly yr over yr, from a 6.3-inch display screen to 6.2 inches. This brings the general system dimensions down only a smidge, too, making it a extra snug phone to maintain one-handed. The display screen has been upgraded with a 120Hz prime refresh fee, which has turn into the usual for high-end telephones (at the very least on Android).
Different updates aren’t instantly apparent however make an actual distinction in how you employ the phone in your each day life. Face unlock now works for funds and password managers — not simply unlocking your system. Google Assistant is healthier at understanding pauses and emphasis in pure language, which makes it really feel like a extra great tool in basic. The digital camera system is sweet as all the time, bolstered this yr by the addition of some AI-driven picture modifying instruments which might be creepily good.
Importantly, the Pixel 8 will get the fundamental stuff proper, too. The battery goes all day, there’s an IP68 ranking for sturdy mud and water resistance, and wi-fi charging is an choice when you’re into that. Better of all, Google is promising seven years of OS upgrades, which is an enormous enchancment over the three platform updates it provided on earlier fashions. The entire above makes it a winner when you’re searching for the best phone to get you thru your day now — and sustain for a very long time to come.
Learn my full overview of the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional.
Best “small” Android flagship
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 phone maintains a 6.1-inch display screen like its predecessor, however it now has a brighter panel with a stronger Gorilla Glass overlaying for improved drop safety. Design-wise, it eschews the digital camera bump round its three rear cameras, and it additionally has a much bigger battery than the S22.
Display: 6.1-inch 1080p 120Hz OLED / Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy / Cameras: 50-megapixel F1.8 essential with OIS, 10-megapixel 3x telephoto with OIS, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel selfie / Battery: 3,900mAh / Charging: 25W wired, 15W wi-fi / Climate resistance: IP68
The Samsung Galaxy S23 isn’t actually a small phone. It’s simply an average-sized phone, however common begins wanting awfully small when the most important telephones include 6.8-inch screens. It’s slightly bit greater than the Asus Zenfone 10, however its greater 6.1-inch display screen in contrast to 5.9 inches is well worth the tradeoff of a barely taller phone. It additionally has all of the conveniences of a real flagship phone, too: wi-fi charging, an IP68 ranking for thorough water and mud resistance, plus a devoted telephoto lens.
The digital camera system is able to glorious pictures, although Samsung’s processing actually likes to lean into vivid colours, and generally it’s an excessive amount of. Portrait pictures are glorious, although, notably with the 3x telephoto lens. Battery life is sweet sufficient to get via a full day, however when you plan to do plenty of gaming or different processing-intensive actions, you would possibly want a noon recharge. Small telephones, small batteries, and so forth.
It could not qualify as really small, however as different phone makers push extra options to their greater, higher-end fashions, the Galaxy S23 stands out as a well-equipped virtually small phone. Simply don’t point out it to an iPhone Mini fan — it’s too quickly.
Learn my full overview of the Samsung Galaxy S23.
Best phone with every little thing however the kitchen sink
Display: 6.8-inch 1440p 120Hz OLED / Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy / Cameras: 200-megapixel essential with OIS, 10-megapixel 10x telephoto with OIS, 10-megapixel 3x telephoto with OIS, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel selfie / Battery: 5,000mAh / Charging: 45W wired, 15W wi-fi / Climate resistance: IP68
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Extremely isn’t for the faint of coronary heart. It’s expensive, beginning at $1,199, and thanks to a 6.8-inch display screen, it’s enormous. It’s additionally essentially the most highly effective Android phone you possibly can buy in the US proper now, with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, S Pen stylus assist with a built-in silo for storage, and two — depend ’em, two — telephoto cameras on the rear panel. It’s type of exhausting to think about what else Samsung might presumably stuff into this phone.
The display screen on the middle of this spec monster is a 6.8-inch OLED with a variable refresh fee up to 120Hz and 1440p decision. It’s beautiful, and the even higher information is that it’s extra battery-efficient than final yr’s mannequin. Between that and the brand new chipset, the S23 Extremely will get via a full day of heavy use with slightly extra wiggle room than its predecessor might.
The S23 Extremely’s digital camera system is a serious motive to take into account placing in the additional money for this mannequin reasonably than the S23 Plus. There’s nothing fairly prefer it obtainable on another flagship phone: there’s each a 3x and 10x telephoto digital camera plus an ultrawide and, oh yeah, a 200-megapixel essential digital camera.
The 200-megapixel factor is simply partially a stunt — more often than not, you’ll be getting a 12-megapixel file from it, however the additional knowledge from all these pixels appears to assist the system provide you with some implausible photographs. It often makes some bizarre judgments or turns the HDR up to 11, however it’s usually excellent and, right here and there, is even able to gorgeous “I can’t believe it’s not a ‘real’ camera” pictures.
Our complaints about Samsung software program stand, sadly, and its faults are much more obtrusive on a really expensive phone. Why the spammy clickbait hyperlinks in the climate app? And who on earth needs push notifications from the Samsung Galaxy retailer? You don’t get that type of factor on a Pixel phone. Nonetheless, there are sufficient spectacular issues in regards to the S23 Extremely that it’s price some minor software program annoyances.
Learn my full overview of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Extremely.
Best foldable phone
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 appears so much like its predecessor, however it now folds flat thanks to a brand new hinge with fewer transferring elements. It maintains the 7.6-inch internal show and slim 6.2-inch cowl display screen, however it now makes use of the identical Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor discovered in Samsung’s Galaxy S23 telephones.
Display: 7.6-inch 2176p 120Hz OLED internal display screen, 6.2-inch 2316p 120Hz OLED cowl display screen / Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 / Cameras: 50-megapixel F/1.8 essential with OIS, 10-megapixel 3x telephoto with OIS, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 10-megapixel selfie (cowl display screen), four-megapixel under-display selfie (internal display screen) / Battery: 4,400mAh / Charging: 25W wired, 15W wi-fi / Climate resistance: IPX8
Samsung’s flagship foldable isn’t the one present in city anymore, however it’s nonetheless the best alternative for most individuals searching for a folding phone. Its multitasking capabilities are second to none, and it’s lighter and simpler to wield than Google’s Pixel Fold. The slim dimensions of the quilt show make it slightly awkward to use for normal phone stuff, however that’s an affordable tradeoff contemplating every little thing that the Fold 5 can do.
There are some essential issues to take into account, although, beginning with the $1800 value. That’s what the Pixel Fold prices, too, however it doesn’t matter the way you take a look at it — that’s so much to pay for a phone. The Fold 5 isn’t dust-resistant, both, so that you’ll need to be considerably cautious along with your funding.
The Fold 5 isn’t precisely teeming with technological enhancements over final yr’s mannequin, both. There’s a brand new hinge that folds flat reasonably than with a niche between the 2 halves of the phone, and that’s about it. A few software program updates that it presents will come to older Fold units in the long run, so there’s not a lot motive to rush out and commerce in your Fold 4 for a Fold 5.
When you’re a faithful Pixel fan or averse to the Fold 5’s slim type issue when closed, Google’s foldable is likely to be a more sensible choice. However for most individuals, the Galaxy Fold 5’s versatility and good current monitor report for sturdiness make it a greater wager.
Learn my full overview of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Best different to Google and Samsung
The Nothing Phone 2 embraces a sure retro-infused aesthetic that’s in contrast to anything you’ll discover in the marketplace. It’s not licensed to work on Verizon, and its rear-panel LED gentle strips are extra fashionable than purposeful, however it’s an excellent different to the large Android manufacturers.
Display: 6.7-inch 1080p 120Hz OLED / Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 / Cameras: 50-megapixel F/1.9 essential with OIS, 50-megapixel ultrawide, 32-megapixel selfie / Battery: 4,700mAh / Charging: 45W wired, 15W wi-fi / Climate resistance: IP54
The Nothing Phone 2 doesn’t supply the very best worth proposition in its upper-midrange class. For sheer ROI, the Pixel 7 is the higher choose. But when it’s fashion you’re after and one thing slightly totally different, then the Phone 2 is a straightforward choose.
It presents an excellent 6.7-inch display screen, nice each day efficiency and battery life, and a succesful digital camera system. However that’s the standard stuff — what’s uncommon in regards to the Phone 2 is its set of LED gentle strips on the again panel. They illuminate in mixtures referred to as “glyphs,” and you may set them to provide you with a warning to sure notifications. It’s neat however in the end isn’t as useful because the system’s customizable always-on show.
On the draw back, the Phone 2 is simply splash-resistant reasonably than totally resistant to water submersion like nearly all different telephones over $500. It’s additionally not totally supported on Verizon’s community, which takes it out of rivalry for lots of the US inhabitants.
If neither of the above is a deal-breaker, and the Phone 2’s styling appeals to you, then it’s a superb alternative. One factor’s for certain — it undoubtedly stands out from the gang.
Learn my full overview of the Nothing Phone 2.
Different Android telephones price contemplating
There are a lot of extra nice Android units that weren’t coated right here, and some are price calling out that didn’t fairly make the minimize for a advice.
There’s the Galaxy Z Flip 5, Samsung’s clamshell-style foldable. It’s way more helpful than its predecessors, thanks to a much bigger 3.4-inch cowl display screen that enables you to kind out texts and emails on a full QWERTY keyboard. It’s not as versatile because the Fold 5, however it additionally prices a way more affordable $999. One other flip phone price contemplating: the Motorola Razr Plus. It’s not as sturdy because the Flip 5, and its cowl display screen widgets aren’t as helpful, however it runs full apps on the outer show extra simply. And it’s simply plain enjoyable, gosh dang it.
On the opposite aspect of the foldable spectrum, the OnePlus Open is a welcome addition to the combination with the best display screen format on a book-style folding phone. It’s skinny and lightweight, and the software program consists of some considerate approaches to multi-tasking — a vital a part of the folding phone expertise. At $1,700, it’s simply $100 shy of the Pixel Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 5 and misses a few key options that each of these different choices embody: wi-fi charging and an IPX8 ranking. But when these omissions don’t trouble you and the shape issue appeals, it’s a stunning system to use.
There’s yet another Pixel phone to take into account: the Google Pixel 7A. It’s $499 and has the identical Tensor G2 processor because the Pixel 7 and seven Professional. The 7A is certainly the best phone digital camera you will get for the cash, and it comes with good creature comforts not normally seen in finances units, like wi-fi charging. It’s on the expensive aspect of the “budget” class, however it’s designed to go the gap.
Replace October twenty second, 2023, 1:20PM ET: Changed the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus with the Google Pixel 8 because the best Android phone general. Eliminated the Google Pixel 7 and added the Samsung Galaxy S23 because the best small flagship phone. Eliminated the Google Pixel 7 Professional as an also-consider and added the OnePlus Open.